Friday, October 09, 2009

The Audacity of the Peace Prize

Today the President was told he had won the Nobel Prize for Peace! What a surprise -- apparently for him, too. At first I wondered if it was a bit early for such an award. But the Nobel Committee's explanation makes sense to me. Those of us who live in Europe have been so relieved that Obama has made such a positive impression on other countries, in fact just the relief of not being embarrassed by our government ...

This President has shown a willingness to reach across the chasms of mistrust and even hatred to use the methods of diplomacy and dialogue with nations that been openly hostile and mistrustful, not only of the United States, but of all western countries. Some of those critics in the United States of the Nobel Committee awarding its prize to Mr. Obama, should remember that our country is the leader of the world, that what we do and how our President is seen to behave and the gestures that he makes are vital to the way the world sees us. And after the eight long years of the last presidency, the way the world saw us was damaging and dangerous. Hatreds were deepened, mistrust was enhanced; we were ugly America.

In a few short months the international attitude towards the country has changed from suspicion and mistrust to hope and respect. We should remember that as the leader of our country he represents the people of that country, whether they voted for him or did not. And in that context the Nobel Peace Prize belongs to the people and is a tribute to the country which elected him. Not only must Obama prove himself to be worthy, so must we all.

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